After nearly a week without Off Times Square, I've opened a blogspot site -- Reality Chex Annex -- for comments. The URL is
If you click on the link, Reality Chex Annex will open in a new window. The easiest way to post your comment, I think, is on the "Select Profile" dropdown menu, choose the "Name/URL" option & type your name (or pseudonym) and, if you don't have your own Website, use http://www.RealityChex.com as the URL.
This isn't a good solution, but as a temporary solution, it's okay. Sorry for the inconvenience, everybody.
MoDo lets Obama have it today: "The president has been ... spectacularly unable to fill the leadership void in Washington... His inability to grab a microphone and spontaneously assuage Americans’ fears is strange.... He long ago should have gone out into the country to talk to Americans in person and come up with a concrete plan.... His withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in Washington, trapped by his own temperament. He doesn’t lead, and he doesn’t understand why we don’t feel led." Write on this or something else. ...
... Karen Garcia & I have posted comments.
** Guess Whose Job the President Cares about -- Yours or His? Robert Reich: "... rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia. When I first heard this I didn’t want to believe it.... The President is being badly advised. "
CNN: "According to a new national survey, for the first time ever most Americans don't believe their own member of Congress deserves re-election.... And the CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday also indicates that while Republicans may have had the upper hand in the recent battle over raising the debt ceiling, they appear to have lost a lot of ground with the public and the party's unfavorable rating is now at an all time high.... Read full results (pdf). ...
... Steve Benen made a chart! ...
... Not that Benen is optimistic. In a later post, he writes: "Come a year from now, Rove and the Koch brothers will pump secret money into key races; Fox News will rally the troops; and voter-suppression tactics will keep Dems from the polls. It’s tough for a wildly unpopular party to win, but Republicans would almost certainly rather take their chances than govern."
Alexander Bolton of The Hill of Sen. Harry Reid's appointment of Sens. Patty Murray, Max Baucus & John Kerry to the deficit reduction Super Committee: "Labor unions and liberal groups lobbied Reid vigorously not to appoint members of the Senate’s Gang of Six to the panel because they unveiled a framework last month calling for significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Those liberal groups were leery of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), members of the Gang of Six, because they also voted for a deficit-reduction proposal from the Simpson-Bowles commission." ...
... David Dayen of Firedoglake is not all that pleased: "Meet Your Catfood Commission," he titles his post.
** Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "... the Fed is a good target for liberal organizing, and it’s all too often overlooked. Liberals should be pressing Obama to immediately name people for the two open seats on the Fed, and to threaten the Senate that he will recess appoint them if they are not approved in, say, 30 days. It’s outrageous that the Senate filibustered Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond when Obama nominated him, but even more outrageous that Obama did little to fight for him [emphasis added] — and that liberals didn’t appear to care very much about it. Beyond pressing Obama, liberals should be actively campaigning against the do-nothing Fed."
Margaret Bogenrief of the Business Insider: "Last month, and pre-U.S.-downgrade, S&P put out the notice – to not much effect, of course – that a downgrade of 7,000 American municipalities was in the works. And while S&P's announcement yesterday that these downgrades weren't 'guaranteed' (that is, some municipalities will escape S&P's wrath), some ARE coming. It may not be 7,000. But there will be a significant number of them."
CW: back before Off Times Square went on glitch-enforced hiatus, one conservative commenter opined that poor people in the U.S. were fairly well-off. You can read the thread here. I also urge you to read Barbara Ehrenriech's essay, a follow-up to her 2001 book Nickle and Dimed on poverty in America. ...
... Jeffrey Brown profiled Philip Levine, the new American poet laureate, for PBS in 2010. Transcript of Brown's interview of Levine here. Beneath the video on the linked page are links to related videos, including Brown's extended interview of Levine & Levine reading some of his best-known works.
Dan Primack of Fortune: "Lucy Nobbe, a vice president with Wedbush Morgan Securities, had this to say to S&P. (She would have said it to Congress, but planes can't fly over Washington, D.C.):
... Foster Kamer of the New York Observer: "She's a single mother of two ... who does not have a lot of discretionary cash...."
Less corruption, more speech. Robust campaigns leading to the election of representatives not beholden to the few, but accountable to the many. The people of Arizona might have expected a decent respect for those objectives. Today, they do not get it. -- Justice Elena Kagan, Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, dissenting opinion ...
... Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic: Elena Kagan is a really good writer. "In her first year on the Court, she wrote three dissents, two of which combine Scalia’s gift for the sharp aphorism with John Roberts’s powers of analytical dissection. But she also has something more: an ability to puncture her colleagues’ bloodless abstractions and tendentious arguments, and to explain the constitutional stakes in plain language that all citizens can understand."
Liz Sly of the Washington Post: "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attempt to crush dissent through a massive military offensive appears to be backfiring, with fervent condemnations both at home and abroad undermining his government’s chances of survival. The bloodshed of the past 10 days has drawn the ire of regional powers that had stayed silent throughout the nearly five-month-old uprising but were outraged by the killings of fellow Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. It has also prompted calls for a tougher stand in the West, particularly from Washington."
Right Wing World *
Wrong about Everything. Paul Krugman on Tim Pawlenty: "... as far as I can tell he's Sarah Palin in a suit."
Dana Milbank: "... the Tea Party movement: It is fueled by populist anger, but it has been hijacked by plutocrats. Well-intentioned Tea Party foot soldiers demand that power be returned to the people, but then their clout is used to support tax cuts for millionaires. They rally for tougher immigration laws, but then their guy in Washington helps corporations to fire U.S. workers and hire foreign nationals." Milbank cites Georgia Tea Party Rep. Austin Scott, who campaigned against illegal immigration, but who just introduced a bill "to defend a company in his district that discriminates against U.S. citizens in favor of Mexican migrant workers."
The Hobbits Revolt. Arizona Republican: "U.S. Sen. John McCain's town-hall meeting Monday in Gilbert broke down into a shouting match at times as 'tea-party' activists directed their anger and frustration toward the senator over issues ranging from his characterization of them as 'hobbits' to the nation's sagging economy.
Still Crazy at the National Review. Judd Legum of Think Progress: "This morning [Tuesday] in the National Review, Stanley Kurtz suggests that President Obama privately supports the violent protesters" in Britain. The leap of logic that Kurtz takes to "support" his supposition is breathtaking.
Still Crazy in Texas. Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Hours after the Dow Jones industrial average closed down more than 600 points Monday, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, heard from local conservatives who were unhappy that ... Burgess was one of seven Texas Republicans in the House to vote for the [deficit] ... deal...." Burgess also agreed with a constituent who said President Obama should be impeached. "It needs to happen," he said. He thought impeachment would help "tie things up" so no more "damage" could be done. ...
... Dan Balz of the Washington Post on "the Rick Perry that Texans know": "Texans say Perry has been underestimated many times. But he’s never faced what will await him if he does jump in."
Blame Leonardo. The Culture Monster of the Los Angeles Times: "Tea party queen and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is convinced that America is sinking into tyranny. Why? In a remarkable profile of the candidate appearing in the Aug. 15 issue of the New Yorker magazine, the artistic flowering of the Italian Renaissance takes a beating for having done away with the god-fearing Dark Ages." Ryan Lizza's New Yorker article, which we linked earlier this week, is here.
* Where populists vote but plutocrats win.
New York Times: "After sweeping declines on Monday were followed by huge gains on Tuesday, stocks on Wall Street finished steeply lower on Wednesday as each of the three main indexes dropped more than 4 percent. Wednesday’s trading completely wiped out the gains of the previous day in the broader market as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index."
New York Times: "Gov. signaling that he intends to join the race and visit South Carolina and New Hampshire on Saturday, the same day his rivals are battling for survival in the Iowa Straw Poll."of Texas delivered a long-distance jolt to the Republican presidential campaign on Monday by
Guardian: "A US air strike has killed the Taliban militants believed to be responsible for shooting down a Chinook helicopter, killing 38 US and Afghan troops, the top commander in Afghanistan said. Marine Corps General John Allen told a Pentagon news conference that forces learned where the insurgents had fled to and killed them in an early morning F-16 air strike on Monday."
Guardian: "The United States is poised to shift its position on Syria by calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down because of the violence he has inflicted on his own people and his failure to implement meaningful reforms for the last five months. Barack Obama could issue the demand as early as Thursday...."
New York Times: "With 10,000 additional police officers deployed across London, and trouble flaring in other cities, Prime Minister threatened sustained police measures including the possible use of water cannons to curb the looting and arson that have shaken many parts of Britain for four consecutive days." Here's the Guardian's liveblog.on Wednesday
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Democrats won two state Senate seats in Tuesday's historic recall elections, but failed to capture a third seat that would have given them control of the chamber. By keeping a majority in the Senate, Republicans retained their monopoly on state government because they also hold the Assembly and governor's office. Tuesday's elections narrowed their majority - at least for now - from 19-14 to a razor-thin 17-16. Republicans may be able to gain back some of the losses next week, when two Democrats face recall elections."
Wall Street Journal: "Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating has created something few thought possible: a bipartisan consensus in Washington. Unfortunately for S&P, the rating firm is the one in the crosshairs. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are gearing up to put it under investigative scrutiny and do more to restrict the influence of S&P and its peers in financial markets." ...
... S&P Got One Thing Right. Washington Post: "House and Senate Republicans have rallied around the notion of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as a solution to the country’s dire fiscal straits. But over the weekend, the head of Standard & Poor’s sovereign ratings division dismissed the idea, arguing that it would be more harmful than helpful to the country’s creditworthiness. 'In general, we think that fiscal rules like these just diminish the flexibility of the government to respond' to crises, S&P managing director John Chambers told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer...."
Washington Post: "A three-judge federal panel on Monday upheld a ban on campaign donations by foreigners.... In a unanimous opinion issued in the District’s federal court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote that it wasn’t even a close call for Congress to ban such contributions. 'It is fundamental to the definition of our national political community that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government,' wrote Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit."
Washington Post: "About 4,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration ... would receive back pay for the two-week partial shutdown of the agency under a bill introduced in the House on Tuesday. Restoration of the lost pay has been expected but requires congressional action. With Congress away until after Labor Day, it would be September before the workers see the money."
Finally, the Administration Does Something for Ordinary Americans. New York Times: "The Library of Congress will announce on Wednesday that Philip Levine, best known for his big-hearted, Whitmanesque poems about working-class Detroit, is to be the next poet laureate, succeeding W. S. Merwin."
Don't Tattle on S&P. New York Times: "Three days after Treasury Department officials discovered what they called a mistake in the assumptions used by Standard & Poor’s to justify the downgrade of United States debt, the president of S.& P. wrote to securities regulators saying that ratings agencies should not be required to publicly disclose all errors in their calculations."